Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Post Office

So, the US Postal Service is claiming that they are in dire financial circumstances. They probably are. They're run like everything else that the government touches. I think that before we call it a day and let the whole thing go under, they should try a few reforms and see if that doesn't correct the system. Here's a few ideas
  1. Pay structure - especially that of the "higher ups" needs a major overhaul. Two years ago there was an uproar when folks found out that the postmaster general made about $800,000 for the year even though the USPS was in trouble financially. That's about twice as much as POTUS makes, and I'm pretty sure he's got a bit more on his plate.
  2. The unions need to make some concessions. Big ones. The pay and retirement packages need to come in line with similar private sector positions. (FedEx and UPS manage to make money.) They also need to be able to lay off workers when there isn't enough work for them to do.
  3. Drop Saturday delivery. It would mean that you could have one carrier per route and not need to juggle schedules to figure out how to get that sixth day covered. 
  4. Quit offering discounts on bulk mail. You would see a significant decrease in the amount of crap that was going through the mail if these companies had to pay regular price for it. Less volume equals less cost to process, ship, and deliver it.
  5. Require all mailboxes to be curbside. Delivery would be way faster and more efficient if you didn't have carriers walking the entire route every day. All that they would have to do is drive up and down the streets dropping off mail and picking it up if the flag is up. Combining this with the lower volume in mail due to increased bulk mail costs, and I wouldn't be surprised to see labor costs cut in half. 
  6. Outsource to private business partners. A lot of the uproar over closing neighborhood post offices is that in some cases the people who use their services have a hard time getting to the larger central office. Find local pharmacies, convenience stores, coffee shops, or whatever who are willing to help provide some of those services. All that you would need is a small store with a little extra bit of counter space to set up a scale to mail packages. That and to buy stamps are what most people go to the post office for anyway. Pay the store a percentage of their postal service sales, and everyone is a winner.
Supporting the USPS isn't just clinging to nostalgia. There are still people out there who receive and write letters. The post office just needs to streamline its business.

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